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I've been taught that ~くて is used when linking adjectives, but as I was reading I ran into this sentence :

それは嘘じゃなくて?

What is exactly the meaning of ~くて in this sentence ? Why isn't it simply じゃない ?

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    上品な言葉づかいの女性のセリフですか? – Chocolate Mar 30 '17 at 12:20
  • そう言えば、キャラクターはメイドだと思います。 – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 13:04
  • @Ushiromiya If this is language from a manga, maybe you could (tag your question manga and) provide more context. As you can see from the comments/answers, depending on the context, this phrase can mean more than one thing. – Earthliŋ Mar 30 '17 at 13:06
  • It is from a Visual Novel. I see, I didn't know that. – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 13:09
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There are two things that play into this

  1. You can think of it as some sort of ellipsis (omission):

    それは嘘じゃなくて、本当ですか?

  2. じゃない? is often used to make a positive statement

    それは嘘じゃない?
    literally Is that not a lie?
    actual meaning That's a lie. / That's not true.

So (2) would be a stronger statement than (1). In particular, saying (2) makes you sound you believe the statement to be false whereas saying (1) you are simply wondering whether it could really be true.

  • First of all, thank you for your answer. So, in this sentence : それは嘘じゃなくて, they just omitted the end ? Basically, it means : "It's not a lie, right ?" – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 12:01
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    If there is no question mark, it could still be seen as an ellipsis, but it would be a shortening of a statement, not a question: それは嘘じゃなくて(本当ですよ) = "That's not a lie (but the truth)". Statements and questions are different: "Is this really an apple?" ≠ "This is really an apple." – Earthliŋ Mar 30 '17 at 12:08
  • I had a COMPLETELY different kind of answer in mind, but I guess the mods should know better. – l'électeur Mar 30 '17 at 12:24
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    @l'électeur There's nothing about mods that helps them answer questions. If you understood the question differently, I'd be interested to hear how (especially since in some cases the OP even accepts an explanation, even if it doesn't answer the question they had in mind). – Earthliŋ Mar 30 '17 at 12:36
  • I'm a bit confused. Is the explanation you provided me an alternate usage of ~くて ? – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 13:24
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I'm fairly certain this is a 役割語{やくわりご} in fiction for an elegant, upper-class lady. In this 役割語, not only can the て form be used in questions as in your example, but also statements like this: 絶対{ぜったい}に許さなくて{ゆるさなくて}よ!

  • Now that I think of it, the character saying this sentence was a maid. So, does that mean that we shouldn't use this in daily conversation ? – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 13:07
  • @Ushiromiya Yes, it would sound pretty weird unless you were joking. – Aeon Akechi Mar 30 '17 at 13:13
  • And what exactly is the purpose of this 役割語 ? How does that change the meaning of a sentence ? – Ushiromiya Mar 30 '17 at 13:31
  • @Ushiromiya I don't think it changes the meaning; it just makes it more お嬢様っぽい. – Aeon Akechi Mar 30 '17 at 13:44

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